Allow safe and legal abortion, pro-choice advocates urge Congress

Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Phillipine Criminal Abortion Act from the Center for Reproductive Rights on Vimeo.

Pro-choice advocates urged Congress on August 2 to allow safe and legal abortion, saying unsafe abortion causes deaths, injuries and illnesses, reports GMANews.tv. Dr. Florence Tadiar of the Institute for Social Studies Action and EnGendeRights Executive Director Atty. Clara Rita Padilla cited the report by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) based in New York, "Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Philippine Criminal Abortion Ban." CRR Pres. Nancy Northup said in a video, "[Forsaken Lives] is the first report of its kind that links the abortion ban in the Philippines to a violation of women’s rights."

The report said that among an estimate of 560,000 Filipinas that undergo abortion every year, 90,000 seek medical help for complications and around 1,000 die, according to Inquirer.net. "Our Congress should address this issue by passing a law that expressly allows safe and legal abortion," Atty. Padilla said. "Women’s rights advocates and reproductive rights advocates should also demand access to safe and legal abortion to address this public health issue."

The pro-choice advocates proposed abortion be legal if the woman’s physical and mental health are at stake, if the pregnancy is a product of sexual assault, or if the fetus is impaired. Rejecting the proposal, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines lawyer Josephine Imbong said, "We have studies that the majority of women and mothers in this country love to have children. We cannot allow a minority to rule and change the law." She added, "If there are many drug addicts, does that mean we should make illegal drug use legal?"

As for the proposed abortion of pregnancies that result from rape, Imbong said, "The rape is not the baby’s fault. Why should the baby be killed?"

Abortion in the country is banned under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. According to a video by the CRR, "Post-abortion care is legal... but women seeking care are often abused by nurses and doctors. Because of the stigma associated with abortion, that abuse goes unpunished."

For more on this story, log on to GMANews.tv and Inquirer.net.

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